If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen a couple of posts in which I lament that my mid-September baby, who is overwhelmingly ready for kindergarten, can’t go to kindergarten because she just misses the cutoff. When I complain about this, people kindly say that at least she will do really well when she finally starts school. I am not an obtuse person but this makes no sense to me. What is the point of delaying this development? Are we really, as a nation, that fearful of Bs and Cs and grades that show that work is needed? Work is good.
But then I think, because I am nothing if not introspective, about the real issue at hand. Is it that she is ready for school and I am mad at the system for being so bureaucratically rigid, or is it that I, whose birthday is the cutoff date, was always the youngest in my class and know my daughter will, for her entire school career, have a very different experience than I did? That would not necessarily be a bad thing.
If you ask Sonja, she is excited to go back to preschool and meet her new teacher, but she would also really like to ride on the school bus.
She is ready, though. She can write all her letters, spell and write her name, and read a few small words like the, go, zoo and no. We are working on reading with learn-to-read books. When I leave her bedroom at night (still a terrible ordeal), and she complains that she can’t sleep, I tell her she can read a book to herself. She finds the one she wants and looks through the pages. When I go in to check on her, I usually find the book open and propped up against the wall or a stuffed animal, as if being exalted.
Sonja is (still) very independent. She picks out her own clothes with the assistance of a small chair, and dresses herself. She buckles herself into her car seat. She insists on helping me with anything I’m doing, like laundry or cooking, because anything I can do, she can do better. The one thing that she shows no interest in doing whatsoever is cleaning up after herself. At least at home. She’ll do it in a group or at school. When I ask her to clean her room, she says, “but Mo-om, I like it messy.”
She doesn’t have as many temper tantrums these days (still a few), but there are battles of will over things such as cleaning up, going to bed, or entertaining herself for 10 minutes while Mom finishes the dishes. The other day she yelled that she didn’t love me anymore because I was always yelling at her, which was heartbreaking in its reminder that my impatience has impact on her, and terrifying in its preview of teenage dramatics.
We have Netflix and she knows how to use it. She will watch the same show for a couple of weeks (sometimes the same exact episodes), and then she’ll move on. She loves going to the movies. I took her to see The Secret Life of Pets on my birthday. She loved it. And we rented the new version of The Jungle Book, which I thought might be too scary for her, but which she also loved, because Mowgli defeated the scary
lion tiger. She had a pair of tan cargo shorts that I tried and failed to get her to wear this summer, until she watched The Jungle Book and decided that those most closely resembled Mowgli’s shorts. She doesn’t love everything she watches. Notable exceptions were The Good Dinosaur and Home, and I agree with her on both fronts there. Those were terrible movies.
For reasons I don’t understand and won’t remember, I decided to try Pokemon Go. Sonja loves spinning Pokestops and catching Pokemon for me. She’s pretty good at it, and she already understands video games so well it’ll only be a couple of months before she surpasses me.
I remember Shaun and I wondering, when Sonja was an infant, what she would be like when she got a little older. At age 5, she is smart; she is precocious; she is musical; she is verbal; she is outgoing; she is easily frustrated; She is a picky eater. But more than anything else, she is happy. You won’t meet a happier 5-year-old, you just won’t. We love you Sonja, and we can’t wait to see what year 5 brings.